Saturday, January 19, 2008

Bill to Encourage Electric Coop Conservation Measures Introduced

Rep. Claire Levy, D-Boulder, has introduced a bill that would require the state's rural electric cooperatives, including Intermountain Rural Electric Association, to devote a percentage of their revenue to efforts aimed at helping their customers conserve energy.

HB 1107, which is co-sponsored by Reps. Randy Fischer, D-Fort Collins, Gwyn Green, D-Golden, Buffie McFadyen, D-Pueblo West, Jack Pommer, D-Boulder, and Judy Solano, D-Thornton, is likely to draw loud protest from the cooperatives.

Among the mechanisms for encouraging conservation authorized by the bill is financial incentives to the ratepayer, technical advice and conservation education.

The bill would require the cooperatives, as well as the state's municipal utilities, to devote one percent of revenue to promote conservation in the first year after it goes into effect. The amount of revenue required to be dedicated to that purpose would rise to two percent in subsequent years. Utilities could exempt themselves from the requirement in any year in which their electricity sales, measured by kilowatt-hours, declined by three percent from the previous year.

The bill would allow the cooperatives and municipal utilities to partner in an effort to provide a common conservation program and permit the utilities to make the required dedication of revenue by means of a contribution of the specified percentage to the Governor's Energy Office for use in developing and promoting conservation programs on its behalf. However, the utility could be required to pay a fee for that service.

The bill has been assigned to the House Transportation & Energy Committee. No Senate sponsor has signed on to the bill yet.

Levy was a driving force behind several energy-related bills last year, including one that requires the state, as well as cities and towns, to adhere to generally accepted energy conservation standards when constructing or renovating public facilities.